Baroness - Blue Record

Following up a classic and highly praised debut like ‘Red Album’ can be a daunting task, but damn, not only Savannah’s Baroness have pulled it off they’ve also written an album that’s greater in scope and tops everything the band has done before. With ‘Blue Record’, the four-piece have made a striking, heavily layered and more accessible record without loosing any of their gritty edge. The superbly brisk guitars continue to serve as the backbone for all of the band's compositions, with dozens of sublimely infectious licks that rivals Mastodon’s ‘Crack the Skye’ in terms of bombast and sheer might. The comparisons with their fellow statesman aren’t new and even though Baroness always had their own sonority from the very beginning, they share some of the most appealing traits of former label mates. Both have a special knack for blending epic and infectious melodies with a sludgy crustiness and psychedelic-prog nuances as evidenced on ‘Jake Leg’, ‘Swollen and Halo’ and ‘A Horse Called Golgotha’, all encompassing a classic metal gallop, a beastly propulsive percussion, nimble and meaty riffs, twin lead guitars that exude a NWOBHM feel and robust vocalizations. ‘War, Wisdom and Rhyme’ delves into the same aural landscapes of ‘Red Album’, with powerful and monolithic riffs coupled with John Baizley's raucous vocals, while ‘O'er Hell and Hide’ sees Baroness stepping into a fierce and odd progressive-tinged atmosphere with spoken word verses.
‘Blue Record’ isn’t all blitz and fury, however, as Baroness expand on the swirling Southern bluesy-psychedelics that were already audible on their previous work, adding various instrumentals like the lethargic ‘Ogeechee Hymnal’ and the folk-flavoured ‘Blackpowder Orchard’, and several other nuances to the songs. Take ‘Steel That Sleeps The Eye’ for example, in which Baroness trade in their powerful and thunderous rhythms for trippy and gentle acoustic chords and clean-vocal harmonies submerging the listeners in slow-moving dirge that serves as introduction to one of the best numbers of the whole album, ‘Swollen and Halo’.
Oozing a classy and soulful production courtesy indie producer John Congleton, ‘Blue Record’ is an epic and intelligent album that varies greatly in terms of mood and texture from song to song, and even within the same song, yet it should be listened in the context of the whole album for a better listening experience. An absolutely mandatory release! (8.5/10)

David Alexandre

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